Makita USA’s XGT launch seems to be confusing some people, as their new “higher power” system is built around 18V form-factor tools, rather than what you would expect 36V/40V Max cordless power tools to look like.
A reader asked how Makita’s new XGT cordless hammer drill and impact driver combo kit compared to the brand’s 18V option.
Frankly, I don’t know. So, let’s walk through some specs together.
Makita 18V Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit
This is Makita’s latest brushless hammer drill and impact driver combo kit to date, model XT288T.
Makita 18V Hammer Drill
- Model XPH14
- Max Torque: 1,250 in-lbs
Makita 18V Impact Driver
- Model XDT16
- Max Torque: 1,600 in-lbs
- 4-speed power selection
Makita 18V Combo Kit Contents
- Kit bag
- 2x 5.0Ah batteries
- 45 minute charger
Makita 40V Max XGT Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit
Makita GT200D is their new XGT brushless hammer drill and impact driver combo kit.
Makita XGT Hammer Drill
- Model GPH01
- Max Torque: 1,250 in-lbs
- Electronic clutch
- “Active feedback technology”
Makita XGT Impact Driver
- Model GDT01
- Max Torque: 1,950 in-lbs
- 4-speed power selection
Makita XGT Combo Kit Contents
- Kit bag
- 2x 2.5Ah batteries
- 28 minute charger
Makita 18V vs. 40V Max XGT Voltage Differences
Let’s start with voltage.
You might think there’s a big difference between “40V Max,” which is simply another way marketers describe 36V Li-ion cordless power tools and batteries, and 18V tools, but it depends on the circumstances.
Back when Dewalt introduced their 15-cell 60V Max and 120V Max cordless power tool systems, Makita often said in press releases about their 18V X2 tools that “voltage is only part of the story.”
According to Makita USA:
“When contractors search for a cordless replacement for a corded tool, voltage is only part of the story,” said Carlos Quintana, Sr. Product Manager, Cordless, Makita U.S.A. “Watt hours, the product of amp hours and nominal voltage, measures the amount of performance performed by the tool and is a better efficiency indicator.”
Watt hours is calculated by multiplying nominal voltage and amp-hours [and] it is a key indicator of battery capacity and run time.
Watt-hours is a measure of energy, and Makita describes it as the amount of performance performed by the tool.
The 18V combo kit comes with 2x 5.0Ah batteries, and the 40V Max XGT (36V nominal) combo kit comes with 2x 2.5Ah batteries.
Let’s do some math.
Makita 18V 5.0Ah battery: 18V x 5.0Ah = 90 watt-hours
Makita XGT 2.5Ah battery: 36V x 2.5Ah = 90 watt-hours
For external comparison:
Milwaukee M18 5.0Ah battery: 18V x 5.0Ah = 90 watt-hours
Dewalt 20V Max 5.0Ah battery: 18V x 5.0Ah = 90 watt-hours
The 2.5Ah 40V Max batteries in this Makita XGT cordless power tool combo kit have the same watt-hours energy rating as the 5.0Ah batteries in Makita, Dewalt, and Milwaukee 18V and 20V Max cordless systems.
Last year, when comparing different brands’ cordless systems, I wrote:
The XGT system kind of makes sense, but not really. An 18V 5.0Ah battery and a 40V Max 2.5Ah battery have the same number of cells – can the XGT system really deliver “the next level of cordless solutions for higher demand applications?”
15 months later, I’m still wondering the same.
Many brands have added higher-performing and higher capacity battery packs to their 18V and 20V Max cordless power tool systems, something Makita has suggested they will not do with their 18V system, but will do in their XGT system. Watt-hours will likely become a more visible comparative metric, as will the physical size of the Li-ion cells.
For instance, Makita has an 18V 6.0Ah battery, but while it has the same watt-hours rating as other brands’ 6.0Ah batteries, it’s difficult to compare batteries built with 18650 cells against those built with 21700 cells without qualifications.
The 18V and XGT batteries discussed here are both built with 18650 Li-ion cells.
Compared to Makita’s 18V batteries, XGT batteries have double the voltage and half the charge capacity. What will this mean for users looking at similar tools in both lineups, such as here, for whom nothing beyond these two kits matter?
With the XGT and 18V batteries having the same watt-hours rating, what benefits do these 40V Max XGT 2.5Ah batteries hold over Makita’s 18V LXT 5.0Ah batteries?
Does 18V vs. 36V/40V Max matter when comparing just these tools? I’ve come to the conclusion that it only complicates things. In this case the watt-hours are the same, and so we can disregard voltage as a meaningful difference between these two combo kit options. But, I’m open-minded – can you add anything to convince me that it’s important in this context.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Torque Specs
Both 18V and XGT drills are said to deliver the same 1,250 in-lbs of max torque.
The XGT impact driver looks to have a slight advantage over the 18V impact with a higher max torque rating.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Features
Both of the impact drivers look to have comparable features, such as 4-speed power selection.
The drills are a bit different. On their website, Makita only says that the XGT has an electronic clutch with 41 settings in low speed and 21 settings in high speed.
(Personally, I tend to favor mechanical clutches over electronic clutches, as I find them to be more accurate and repeatable in lower torque application.)
It looks like you have to push a button or spin a dial to cycle through all of the clutch settings. We asked Makita USA for clarification and never heard back.
The XGT drill has “active feedback-sensing technology” which turns the motor off if it senses that an attached accessory has suddenly stopped rotating. Makita doesn’t explicitly describe this as anti-kickback tech, but unless there’s a differentiation unknown to me, that’s what it sounds like.
Makita touts the XGT system as having rare earth magnets, pure copper wire, built-in microchips, and digital communications. However, as far as I am aware, other brands’ modern brushless power tools have similar features.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Battery Charging Time
Given that the XGT battery has a lower charge capacity, at 2.5Ah vs. 5.0Ah, it takes a lot less time time to recharge – 28 minutes instead of 45 minutes for the 18V battery. This is with the included chargers.
Makita says this about the XGT charger:
display indicates battery charge level (-80%, +80%, 100%)
It’s unclear what this means (-80%?), but many modern chargers have similar charging state indicators.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Speed
There are on-paper differences in max no-load RPMs, which explains the higher max torque of the XGT impact wrench.
18V Hammer Drill: 0-550/0-2100 RPM
XGT Hammer Drill: 0-650/0-2,600 RPM
18V Impact Driver: 3,600 RPM/3,800 IPM
XGT Impact Driver: 3,700 RPM/4,400 IPM
This could be tied to the higher voltage motor, higher power draw from the batteries, neither, both, or something else entirely.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Weight
18V Hammer Drill: 6 lbs with battery
XGT Hammer Drill: 6 lbs with battery
18V Impact Driver: 3.4 lbs with battery
XGT Impact Driver: 3.7 lbs with battery
The drills have the same weight, and the XGT impact driver is marginally heavier compared to the 18V.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Length
18V Hammer Drill: 7″
XGT Hammer Drill: 7-1/8″
18V Impact Driver: 4-9/16″
XGT Impact Driver: 4-3/4″
The XGT tools are marginally less compact compared to the 18V.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Kit Pricing
$399 vs. $449 might not seem like a big difference, but $399 is a lot for a drill and impact driver already.
Home Depot had a deal earlier this year, where you buy this particular Makita 18V combo kit for $399 and get (2) free 5.0Ah batteries plus a screwdriver bit set.
There are similar deals other times of year. Last winter holiday season, retailers had an offer where you buy the Makita 18V hammer drill and impact driver combo kit and could get 2 free bare tools or batteries included in the $399 price.
It’s unclear as to what Makita’s XGT marketing will look like, and whether there will be any promotions, discounts, or free tool bundles similar to their regular 18V LXT system promos.
Makita 18V vs. XGT Differences Summary
Looking at these two drill and impact driver combo kits, it seems that the XGT drill has a different clutch with more settings, and what sounds to be anti-kickback tech. The 18V and XGT hammer drills have the same max torque, and the XGT impact driver is a little more powerful than the 18V model. XGT RPMs are a little higher.
The batteries included in both kits pack the same energy – 90 watt-hours. The 2.5Ah XGT battery charges faster than the 5.0Ah 18V battery.
Unless anyone can suggest or explain otherwise, the 18V vs. 40V Max voltage difference doesn’t seem to be very meaningful here. Maybe there will be more notable differences with future hammer drill and impact driver releases. Thus, for simplicity, it seems that we can ignore the 18V and 40V Max voltage considerations entirely and pretend we are comparing two competing 18V options.
The 18V kit has an advantage when it comes to the regular retail price. Makita’s flagship 18V hammer drill and impact driver combo kit is occasionally featured in special promos with added-value products, such as free bare tools and batteries, and it is unknown as to whether Makita will offer the same incentives for the 40V Max combo.
If you ignore promo pricing considerations, $399 gets you an 18V kit, and $449 gets you the XGT 40V Max kit with some feature differentiations and a bump-up in certain specs. Makita USA has not answered questions about if any of these features will be coming to the 18V line.
If you had to choose, which option would YOU go for?
If I were shopping for a new heavier duty hammer drill and impact driver combo kit and could only choose between the two Makita combos discussed here, I’d wait around for the next Makita 18V promo, where you can get a lot more for $400 than just a hammer drill and impact driver kit.
If for some reason Makita unexpectedly discontinued all promos on their 18V combo kit, I’d find a way to spend a little more for the XGT’s features – if they prove to be advantageous. The anti-kickback feature sounds appealing (and I don’t understand why Makita wouldn’t add this to their newest 18V hammer drill), although as mentioned I haven’t had great experiences with electronic drill clutches.
The electronic clutch could be a moot point for me – I generally use compact cordless drills (as opposed to heavy duty 1000+ in-lbs torque drills) or cordless screwdrivers when working with smaller fasteners, and impact drivers for medium-sized and larger fasteners. I have not yet had great experiences with any 18V-sized heavy duty super-torque drill when driving in smaller or shorter fasteners. I also don’t usually use a clutch in drilling mode (should I be?).